No. 1 USC Faces NCAA Championship Rematch This Week
Women of Troy host Hartwick and visit San Jose State before a face-off against Stanford on Sunday in Palo Alto.
March 26, 2014
USC Water Polo Release
The top-ranked Trojans carry a 25-game winning streak and a perfect 18-0 overall record into a set of three games this week. Undefeated USC (18-0, 3-0 MPSF) opens up with a Thursday (March 27) matchup against No. 19 Hartwick at 5 p.m. at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center before heading up to Northern California for two MPSF games. USC will first visit No. 8 San Jose State for a 12 p.m. clash on Saturday (March 29). Then, the Trojans will pay a visit to No. 3 Stanford in a marquee match at 5 p.m. on Sunday (March 30). That clash will be the first face-off between the Cardinal and the defending national champs since the two teams set an NCAA record for the longest NCAA Championship game in history last season, playing through three sudden-death periods before USC punched in the winner to claim the crown. The USC-Stanford game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks with Chris Dorst and Jason Knapp on the call.
USC IN THE RANKINGS
THE LAST MEETING
March 28, 2012
McDonald's Swim Stadium
No. 3 USC Is Too Hot For Hartwick
The No. 3 USC women's water polo team rattled the back of the net 19 times in today's nonconference clash with No. 19 Hartwick, getting 11 different scorers in on the offensive onslaught for a 19-5 win at McDonald's Swim Stadium. The Women of Troy were paced by four goals from Patricia Jancso and hat tricks from Chelsea Silvers and Kaleigh Gilchrist in the win, which improved USC to 16-3 overall on the year.
THE LAST MEETING
March 15, 2013
Uytengsu Aquatics Center
No. 1 USC Stays In Control, Tops San Jose State 18-4
The top-ranked USC women's water polo team spread the wealth among 11 different scorers to swamp visiting No. 10 San Jose State with an 18-4 MPSF victory today at the Trojans' home pool. Kelly Mendoza and Monica Vavic led the charge with a hat trick apiece, but the Trojans were a balance of power today as they kept their win streak rolling along to a 15-0 overall record and a 3-0 mark in MPSF play.
THE LAST MEETING
May 12, 2013
USC WINS 2013 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP!
It took more than guts to get this glory. After 45 minutes and 47 seconds of water polo, USC freshman Anni Espar drilled the game-winner for the Trojans to beat Stanford 10-9 in the third sudden-death period of play, winning the 2013 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship for the top-seeded Women of Troy in Boston, Mass. The match was not only the first women's water polo NCAA final to go to overtime, it pushed the record out through the two 3-minute overtime periods and two 3-minute sudden death periods before Espar's bar-in rocket put a stop to things with the winner during the third sudden-death frame. The stunning and exhausting victory is USC's fourth national championship.
USC opened 2014 ranked No. 1 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls. The Trojans haven't moved from that top spot in the land as they now enter the 10th week of 2014 competition.
USC had a profitable Spring Break trip to Hawai'i last week, cashing in with three wins in Honolulu to extend the Trojans' win streak out to 25 in a row. USC opened up with a Friday night clash against Indiana, beating the Hoosiers 15-5 that evening. The next day, it was double duty for the Women of Troy, who pinned up a 12-3 win over Long Beach State before dealing out a 14-6 win over host Hawai'i that same day. Defensive stands were the name of the game in all three victories for the Trojans. Against Indiana, USC held the No. 14 Hoosiers scoreless for 16 minutes of action, while spreading the wealth among 11 scorers in the win. The following day, the Trojans were stifling out of the gates in both matches. USC scored the first nine goals of the game against the 49ers and the drummed up the first 10 against the Rainbow Wahine en route to the pair of dominating victories. Monica Vavic would finish as USC's top scorer on the trip, finishing up with nine goals to score herself a selection as the MPSF Player of the Week for the first time this season.
The No. 19 Hawks are 15-8 overall after losing 12-10 to Cal State Northridge and beating Concordia 15-8 in their last action. USC is a perfect 9-0 all-time against Hartwick. In the teams' last meeting, the Trojans posted a 19-5 win over the Hawks in 2012 in Los Angeles.
SCOUTING SAN JOSE STATE
The No. 8 Spartans are 18-9 overall and 0-2 in MPSF play after an 11-9 win over Indiana in their last action. Clara Espar Llaquet leads SJSU in scoring with 3.15 goals per game. Goalie Maddie Reardon is aveaging 7.5 saves and 9.1 goals-against per game. USC is a perfect 27-0 all-time against San Jose State. Last season, USC beat the Spartans 18-4 in MPSF play in Los Angeles.
The No. 3 Cardinal is 15-1 overall and 1-0 in MPSF play after beating UC San Diego 21-7 and San Diego State 12-6 last week. USC is led in scoring by Maggie Steffens with 2.0 goals per game and Ashley Grossman and Kiley Neushul with 1.9 per game. Goalie Gabby Stone is averaging 8.0 saves and 6.6 goals-against per game. USC is an even 27-27 all-time against Stanford. Last season, USC went 3-1 against the Cardinal, posting a 13-10 win in the 2013 UCI Invitational championship game, losing 6-4 in the teams' MPSF matchup in Los Angeles, and then winning 11-7 in the MPSF Tournament title match. In the teams' fourth meeting of the year, USC and Stanford squared off in the 2013 NCAA Championship game at Harvard. That game would stretch to an NCAA-record triple sudden death, where USC claimed the championship with the game-winner scored after 45 minutes and 47 seconds of water polo played. The 10-9 decision earned USC its fourth national championship and first since 2010.
VICTORS IN IRVINE
USC made a statement with its surge to a second consecutive UCI Invitational title. The Trojans again went big on day one in securing their place in Sunday's semifinals with two strong wins on Saturday. There, USC topped CSU Bakersfield 21-1 before taking out No. 10 Cal State Northridge 12-5. That put USC in a semifinal bout against No. 4 California, and the Trojans were up to the task. Freshman Stephania Haralabidis delivered her first four-goal game to lead the Trojans, with Eike Daube delivering a fourth-quarter hat trick to further charge up USC. The Trojans' balance kept them out of reach of the Bears, as USC built a 4-1 lead in the first frame and carried a 6-3 advantage into the second half. After an even third period, USC's lead was still a strong three goals going into the final stanza. There, the Trojans flexed a little more muscle and plugged in four more goals before the final buzzer sounded on a strong 12-7 win over the Bears. That moved the Trojans into the title match against an upset-minded UCLA squad that had just served up a big win over No. 2 Stanford. That game opened as a defensive battle in comparison to the high-scoring affairs the Women of Troy had been posting on the way in. The Bruins registered the first goal of the game and would put USC in a 2-0 hole out of the gates before Madeline Rosenthal drew first blood for the Trojans with a score from the post during the first frame. The second period would go scoreless until freshman Stephania Haralabidis leveled the score with a strike 20 seconds before halftime hit. In the third, UCLA took a 3-2 lead, but this time Ioanna Haralabidis would come through with the equalizer for the Trojans, locking it a 3-3 with 3:34 on the clock. Colleen O'Donnell bounced USC into the lead for the first time with a score during the third, and she'd pad it out to a 5-3 advantage early in the fourth. The Bruins cut it down to 5-4 with 1:37 to go, and UCLA would get up on a 6-on-5 in the final minute, converting to lock the game back up 5-5 with just five seconds left in regulation. That brought up overtime, where UCLA scored its third straight to take a 6-5 lead midway through the first frame of OT. In the second, the Trojans buckled down. Winners of a triple sudden-death overtime in the 2013 NCAA Championship game, the Women of Troy remained resolute and focused. Just 42 seconds into the second overtime period, Daube whipped in a crosscage score to pull USC even at 7-7. It wasn't long until Daube would deliver again, striking a skipper to take a 7-6 advantage that would hold the rest of the way as USC successful fended off the Bruins to capture the championship.
CARDINAL & GOLD AT THE WHITE HOUSE
For the second time in five years, both the USC men's and women's water polo programs have made a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the White House as NCAA Champions. United States President Barack Obama extended an invitation to national championship teams from around the country for the opportunity to tour the White House and meet the President on March 10. Head coach Jovan Vavic brought his latest crews of champions, along with his coaching staff and a few support staff, on the memorable journey. Members of USC's 2013 women's team -- which won the NCAA title in a sudden-death victory -- and members of the 2013 men's teams -- which won a sixth consecutive title with an overtime victory -- took the trip to Washington this week. The last USC teams to make such a visit were the Trojans' 2010 champions. That was the last year that the USC men's and women's water polo teams went back-to-back with national championships, and the 2010 water polo teams also made that trip to the White House along with the USC men's tennis team following its 2010 title run.
Following the top-ranked Trojans' powerful run to the 2014 UCI Invitational championship last weekend, USC made it an MPSF sweep of the weekly awards. Junior Eike Daube has locked in her first career selection as the MPSF Player of the Week, and freshman Stephania Haralabidis has hauled in her first collegiate award as the MPSF Newcomer of the Week. Daube went big for the Trojans on the crucial second day of the UCI Invitational, delivering a fourth-quarter hat trick to help lead the Trojans to a 12-7 semifinal win over No. 4 Cal before coming up clutch in the championship game. Daube scored twice during the second overtime period to pull USC out of a 6-5 OT hole and secure the tournament title for the Trojans with a 7-6 comeback win against No. 3 UCLA. Her five goals on Sunday paired with a goal during group play the previous day to give Daube 16 goals this season - just 12 games into the year. As a sophomore, Daube scored 23 total goals in all of 2013. Haralabidis was the Trojans' top scorer at the UCI Invitational. With 10 goals in the tourney, Haralabidis also was key in propelling USC to its second straight UCI Invitational championship. In the semifinal against No. 4 Cal, Haralabidis set a career high for herself with a four-goal game in the win over the Bears. She added her 10th goal of the tourney with an early equalizer for the Trojans in their comeback win over No. 3 UCLA in the title match. On the first day of play, Haralabidis scored twice against CSU Bakersfield and added a hat trick against No. 10 Cal State Northridge.
Freshman Stephania Haralabidis tallied a first-half hat trick for the Trojans in their MPSF opener, delivering three goals in USC's 15-6 win over No. 5 host Arizona State. For her efforts, Haralabidis picked up back-to-back honors as the MPSF Newcomer of the Week, following up her Feb. 24 pick for her work in helping USC to the UCI Invitational championship with another selection on March 3. Haralabidis' three goals against Arizona State came in a four-minute span, helping USC along to an early 6-2 lead on the Sun Devils. In addition to her three goals on four shots taken, Haralabidis also won three sprints, had three steals and served up three assists in the win. Haralabidis now stands as USC's second leading scorer with 30 goals. She is the only Trojan to date to have scored at least one goal in every game.
BY THE NUMBERS
Through these first 18 games of 2014, USC is outscoring opponents 287-73, leading the MPSF in offense and defense to date. Junior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 49 goals as she has climbed to No. 8 all-time in career scoring (165 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is freshman Stephania Haralabidis with 37 goals, followed by Eike Daube and Kaleigh Gilchrist with 24 each and freshman Ioanna Haralabidis with 22. Gilchrist also is on the career climb, ranking No. 14 all-time with 131 career goals. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable anchor in senior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who is averaging 9.4 saves per game and 4.1 goals-against per game in her 16 appearances to date.
USC has several Trojans who are on the rise in the career record books. Junior Monica Vavic currently holds 165 career goals to have cracked the all-time top-10. With four goals vs. Bakersfield on March 7, she took over the No. 8 spot previously held by two-time Olympian Kami Craig. She's now five goals shy of the No. 7 spot. Senior Kaleigh Gilchrist, too, is making moves up the ladder. With 131 career goals, Gilchrist ranks No. 14 all-time, having bumped another two-time Olympian, Lauren Wenger out of that spot last week. Defensively, senior goalie Flora Bolonyai has a chance to take over as USC's all-time career saves leader by the end of the year. Bolonyai passed up Tumua Anae last season to take over at No. 2. Now with 777 career saves to date, Bolonyai is closing the gap between herself and all-time leader Bernice Orwig's 838 saves as a Trojan. All three USC goalies hold the distinction of being Olympians, with Orwig holding a silver medal with Team USA at the 2000 Games and Anae captured gold with the United States in 2012 in London. Bolonyai also is a 2012 Olympian, having played for Hungary in those Games.
FLORA IN CONTROL
Senior goalie Flora Bolonyai was a wall in the cage for the Trojans in their run to capturing the Triton Invitational championship and earned her first season honor of MPSF Player of the Week for her winning efforts. Bolonyai had 10 saves in a 13-0 group-play win over #16 Cal State Northridge -- securing the sixth shutout victory in program history -- to advance the Trojans to the semifinals. There, Bolonyai pinned up another 10-save effort in a 10-4 win over No. 10 Arizona State for a ticket to the final. In the title match, Bolonyai opened the day with a save against a UC Irvine 5-meter penalty shot, and she'd finish with 11 saves in the 8-3 championship win. In all, Bolonyai finished the weekend with 33 saves and seven goals allowed while. On March 17, Bolonyai earned another pick as MPSF Player of the Week after a 12-save outing in a win over Cal.
The 2014 Trojans return five starters from the last national championship team. NCAA Tournament MVP Flora Bolonyai -- an Olympian and a three-time All-American -- is the undeniable backbone of the team as the Trojans' steadfast goalie. She returns as one of five All-Americans back in the water, joined by fellow senior All-Americans Kaleigh Gilchrist, Kelly Mendoza and Madeline Rosenthal. Junior Monica Vavic returns as another All-American as well as the Trojans' top scorer and MPSF Player of the Year last season. That entire group gleaned even more key experience in the offseason, playing internationally throughout the summer along with several other Trojan teammates. Bolonyai won a bronze medal with Hungary at the 2013 FINA World Championships. Gilchrist, Mendoza and Vavic, as well as juniors Colleen O'Donnell and Eike Daube, all spent time with the U.S. National Team. Daube and Vavic combined forces for gold with the U.S. Junior National Team at the FINA Junior World Championships, while Jayde Appel pulled double duty in representing Australia at both the senior and junior World Championships. She'd bring home a World Championship silver medal from Barcelona, where Bolonyai picked up her bronze medal. The international standout list goes on. Back from training with the German National Team is junior Jennifer Stiefel, and new to the Trojan roster this season are the powerful sister act from Greece, Ioanna and Stephania Haralabidis.
2014 TROJANS AT A GLANCE
USC is coming off a 2013 season in which the Trojans posted a 27-1 overall record, culminating the season by knocking off defending champ Stanford 10-9 in triple sudden death overtime for the 2013 NCAA Championship at Harvard. En route to winning their fourth national championship, the Trojans also won the 2013 MPSF Tournament championship with a win over the Cardinal in that title match. This season, USC returns 2013 MPSF Player of the Year and All-American Monica Vavic, who poured in 77 goals last year, along with senior All-Americans Flora Bolonyai at goalkeeper, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Madeline Rosenthal and Kelly Mendoza. Named the 2013 National Coach of the Year, USC head coach Jovan Vavic now enters his 20th season at the helm of the Trojan women's water polo program.
WELCOME TO UYTENGSU!
USC proudly welcomes visitors to the new state-of-the-art Uytengsu Aquatics Center this season. Made possible by the largest gift ever by a former USC student-athlete, swimmer Fred Uytengsu, the new home of the Trojan aquatics programs officially opened on Feb. 21. The pool and diving well both were used for the 1984 Olympic Games, but the surrounding facility has an entirely new look. A fancy new scoreboard as well as stands, overhangs, entryways and buildings with event and office space now surround the pools for an arena that also honors the historic tradition of success that Trojan aquatics exemplifies.